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Sound of Music at The Alban Arena*****
1:59pm Friday 11th May 2012 in Freetime
The evergreen Sound of Music adamantly refuses to go out of fashion. OK, so it has been done to death but so what? It is a classic and still manages to stir up feelings of warm nostalgia and joy every time it makes an appearance. Love, romance, stirring songs and unfeasibly cute children ensures it swells heart, as well as the box office coffers every time.
Surrounded by chattering school children and a cacophony of rustling sweet papers, I feared my trip to the mountains could be marred. I need not have worried as a spellbound hush descended the moment Philip Joslin’s orchestra struck the first note. Apart from an amusing and synchronised embarrassed groan when Maria and Von Trapp kissed, the young audience members were mesmerised throughout; and rightly so.
A quality principal line-up and beautifully balanced chorus held the audience's attention from the off. The ladies chorus delivered their prayer like musical numbers with a solemnity and reverence to rival any nunnery choir. Apart from the occasional obscuring of faces with wimples and one or two early sound issues, Julia Rufey’s production was slick and pacy.
Katherine Littler delighted as the wayward Maria. Her easy rapport with the children, coupled with her sweet voice ensured she both charmed and moved the audience in equal measure. Playing opposite Matthew Gregory, who made for an especially handsome and velvet-voiced Von Trapp, Miss Littler held the stage with ease.
A pity the audience were not treated to seeing and hearing more of Susan Akroyd. Her poise and wit created a very knowing interpretation of Baroness Schraeder, while her vocal clarity and control was impressive. Strong support was provided by Elspeth Jackman as the loyal and protective Frau Schmidt.
The children were collectively replete while individually showing off their obvious on-stage talents. Always in character and equally at home whether singing, dancing or reacting to the unfolding story, they performed with energy and an endearing charm. When Marta Von Trapp sang, “I hate to go and leave this pretty sight”, I know exactly what she meant.